Written By: Matt Bolton
Today we will look at the epic tree that is Iron Maiden, branching out to some great side projects and solo albums of these very talented musicians. The Irons really hit the metal world by storm with The Number of the Beast; certainly causing this tree to rattle with some HEAVY ROOTS.
Paul Di’Anno provided vocals for the first two records, 1980’s self-titled debut and the classic Killers the following year. Di’Anno really partied a little too hard with cocaine and after the Killers tour that was it for the man.
Bruce Dickinson was the replacement by the end of 1981 and The Number of the Beast was unleashed the following year. Dickinson fronted a band by the name of Samson before joining Maiden.
After releasing seven solid albums with the band, Dickinson pursued a solo career which has produced six albums. My personal favourite is The Chemical Wedding, which was released in 1998.
Blaze Bayley took over Dickinson’s roll, releasing The X Factor and Virtual XI with the band in 1995 and 1998 respectively, while Dickinson did his solo thing. Record sales didn’t meet expectations, and it was clear Bayley was better off returning to his former band, the mighty Wolfsbane.
Dickinson returned to the band and Brave New World was released in 1999. The Wicker Man video to this day is a standout and very meaningful for me. The return of the mighty Dickinson; how metal can a man be, touring like a madman and proving to be one of the most energetic frontmen in heavy music, as well as flying aircraft (including the band’s own aeroplane ‘Ed Force One’), all at the ripe old age of 58.
Guitarist Adrian Smith also left the Irons for some time, starting his own band Psycho Motel and later becoming a member of Dickinson’s solo band. Yep, it was Smith providing the riffs on The Chemical Wedding. One side project of Smith’s that stuck out to me was Primal Rock Rebellion.
This was a collaboration with Mikee Goodman, vocalist of seminal British experimental/djent band Sikth. The band must be heard, as they are a whole different kettle of fish to Iron Maiden.
Iron Maiden is in a good place now with a strong line-up back in place. Having Smith and Dickinson back in the fold is great news for Maiden’s millions of fans around the world. Steve Harris’s galloping bass will live on forever, as will drummer Nicko McBrain’s manic battering of his kit. And that triple guitar attack will continue to rock our worlds. Up the Irons! \m/